U.S. skier David Wise’s path to the Beijing Winter Olympics was anything but easy, and that’s what makes his silver medal in Saturday’s freestyle skiing halfpipe competition all the more satisfying. It marked the third Olympic medal for the 31-year-old, in addition to his halfpipe golds from Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018.
Wise’s impressive score on his initial attempt momentarily gave him the lead in the competition before Nico Porteous of New Zealand surpassed it for the gold medal. Another American, Alex Ferreira, took the bronze.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 19, 2022
Less than three years ago, few would have thought Wise would be in a position to earn a medal at the Olympics.
At a ski competition in Austria in April 2019, he lay shocked and immobile in the snow after failing to land a trick — he had snapped his right femur in two. A rod had to be inserted into his leg, leaving a scar from his hip to his knee. The path forward seemed murky, and the severity of the injury begged the question about whether Wise would ever be able to return to the level of skiing dominance he had enjoyed previously.
“In some ways,” Wise told USA Today last week, “I felt like maybe breaking my leg kind of prepared me for the world to go crazy (in the COVID-19 pandemic) because I was going through so much on a personal side that I kind of developed this thankfulness to be alive, just a thankfulness for still being able to do what I wanted to do.”
Wise’s recovery, hard enough already, was made even more difficult when the pandemic shut the world down. Wise had gotten back on his skis after eight months, but recovering to the point where he felt comfortable on them would take another 10 months. That process was made harder with no contests and limited options for training.
Often stuck at home, Wise used the break from rebuilding his right leg to focus on rebuilding what was more important with his wife, Alexandra, and kids, Nayeli and Malachi.
“We rebuilt our marriage,” Alexandra told USA Today. “We rebuilt our family. We rebuilt our faith because our faith was totally lost. That was what we needed.”
David would later add: “I’m less and less tied, in terms of identity, to a pair of skis.”
Through it all, Wise realized, it was God who was in control of all things — of his injury, of his family, of his skiing. That realization freed Wise to ski without pressure, knowing his performance in Beijing doesn’t affect how God sees him.
He shared a vulnerable Instagram post in April 2020, in which he wrote, “I had to humble myself and embrace my own weakness, brokenness and inability to be master of the situation. I was finally aware of my powerlessness. It was immensely freeing.”
Wise ended his post with, “I wasn’t in control, but God was.”
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Wise has spoken of his faith before and how his skiing and his worship are intertwined.
“Skiing for me has always been my act of worship to God,” Wise told Sports Spectrum before the 2018 Winter Olympics, “and as long it continues to be, I will keep on skiing. I don’t treat my sport as something that’s meant to glorify me. I try my best to treat it as something that brings glory to God.
“I worship the Creator by doing what I was created to do. He gave me the talent and continues to provide opportunities for me, so I’m going to go out there and use every one as an act of worship. … I hope to expand people’s view so they can use whatever it is they were created to do and make that their act of worship. That’s what God wants from us.”
The closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing concluded Sunday with Team USA bringing home 25 medals (eight golds, 10 silvers and seven bronzes).
– American David Wise defends Olympic ski halfpipe gold medal with clutch final run
– David Wise, defending Olympic halfpipe skiing gold medalist, skis as act of worship
– U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor wins 4th Olympic medal, is ‘in this sport to glorify God’
– INSIDE THE CHAPEL: Team USA chaplain Asif Shaikh on ‘Chasing the Lion’